Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Know Your Market: YA Vs. MG Part I
I like to intern within the realm of the book industry and there are things I've noticed during critique sessions, interning or during the contests we've held about YA vs. MG.
KNOW YOUR MARKET.
I've read queries or manuscripts where the voice is distinctly MG and yet it's being pitched as YA. There has always been a huge debate between what makes something MG and what makes it YA. Heck, Auzy and I had a lovely 30-something email exchange on the subject. We've agreed to disagree.
I believe age is a definite factor, especially for publishers, booksellers, and agents. Upper MG has started to become a category we use to pitch agents, but Barnes & Noble still has no designated section. It's still under "childrens". Upper MG can have main characters as old as 15, but the subject matter is cleaner less YA based. Notice how Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was considered MG but as the series progressed (ie: characters got older) and material got darker then it began to be called YA?
Age is how booksellers categorize books and display them. Which, yes, with ebooks it can be a bit different but most ebooks are still in sections (like childrens and Young Adult). So booksellers want to buy books from publishers who have books that are easy to categorize. So publishers want agents to show them manuscripts that are easy to place. Again, it comes back to target audience. Will 16-year-olds really want to read about a 12-year-old protagonist? What I heard from an agent a few years back was that kids like to read up. Now, you may be able to get a 12-year-old protagonist to read about a 14 or 15-year-old, but will it work the other way around?
Look out for Part II where I discuss the exceptions and why age isn't the ONLY factor. Still, it's one of the first things one looks at when considering whether a book is YA or MG. And who knows maybe Auzy will chime in to prove me wrong.
What's ya'lls take on the subject?